The Examiner

North Castle Closing in on Brynwood Rezone Vote

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A vote on Brynwood Golf & Country Club’s requested zoning change could occur as soon as next week if North Castle officials and the applicant can agree on revisions to the zoning text and conservation easement.

Following last week’s resumption of the public hearing on whether to create a Golf Course Community Floating Overlay District to allow for the construction of luxury townhouses on a portion of the 156-acre property on Bedford Road, resolutions on the new zoning may be scheduled for next Wednesday, June 10.

If that takes place, then a vote to map the overlay district would have to be scheduled for a future meeting before the applicant can go to the planning board, said Supervisor Michael Schiliro. Revising the town’s Comprehensive Plan would also have to be approved.

Last Wednesday night Schiliro told a large audience at the Hergenhan Recreation Center that Brynwood Partners, the project’s applicant, has been increasingly receptive on several key issues that had raised the most community  concern–density, taxes, preserving the property from other development and water.

“I want to commend them for listening,” Schiliro said. “Everything I brought to them that I heard from the community, whether from this board or previous boards, they listened to and they wanted to try and make adjustments to make this more palatable to the board and the community.”

Last week some residents urged the town board to tighten language in the conservation easement to ensure there will be no further development at the site beyond what Brynwood has currently planned. Meetings were also scheduled that included the Westchester Land Trust to work on the conservation easement.

Attorney Mark Weingarten, representing Brynwood Partners, said that his client has now agreed to a maximum of 73 units, which includes seven affordable units, that are required to be built. That represents a reduction from last fall’s revised proposal of 88 residences. If a location can be found to place the seven affordable units off site, there would be 73 market-rate units at the property.

Also, all market-rate units would now have fee simple taxation; the land would either remain a golf course or be open space should Brynwood obtain their approvals; and Brynwood could join nearby Windmill Farm’s Water District 2 to help defray costs for district residents. If the district doesn’t want Brynwood to join, there is a sufficient on-site water supply through wells, Weingarten said.

In addition, the developer has agreed to pay $860,000 for overall community improvements, $100,000 for windmill improvements at Windmill Farm, $75,000 for the repair of a stone wall along Route 22 and $15,000 to the Friends of Miller House, he said. The applicant has also agreed to abandon its tax certiorari if the approvals are obtained.

Weingarten urged officials that once the zoning text and conservation easement language is finalized the board should schedule a vote. The hearing is scheduled to resume tonight (Wednesday) at the recreation center in Armonk at 7 p.m.

“It’s time to make a decision,” Weingarten said. “Let’s make one in the near future. We know this process has to finish legally for it to occur and let’s make a decision one way or another.”

Several residents remained strongly opposed to the project, while there were those who voiced strong support. There were also some residents, including from Windmill Farm, who thought there had been some improvements made.

Windmill resident Jan Bernstein said she was pleased with many of the latest changes and it could have positive impact on the project. However, she raised concerns that the zoning amendment was too loosely worded and doesn’t place enough restrictions on membership or construction of other recreational facilities

“Tightening the language in the amendment will make it more likely that the end result of the proposed amendment will meet the residents’ and the board’s expectations,” Bernstein said.

Green Valley Road Resident Barry Malvin, who chaired the town’s Land Use Study Committee about 10 years ago, urged the board to use caution. A decade ago North Castle was under development pressures, which have resurfaced, but it is still critical to preserve the town’s character.

“I think you really need to think about not just this property but the direction that this town is going,” Malvin said. “We set out to preserve neighborhood character, preserve the beauty of the town to prevent overdevelopment and at the time we succeeded.”


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